Giving tied more to happiness than wealth

PJ staff report

Happy people are more likely than wealthy people to give to charity, a new study says.

The World Giving Index, released by the Charities Aid Foundation in Britain, also says 20 percent of the world’s population had volunteered in the month before they were surveyed, 30 percent had given money to a charity, and 45 percent had helped a stranger.

The Index, based on a Gallup Survey on the charitable behavior of people in 153 countries representing 95 percent of the world’s population, is the largest ever to examine charitable behavior worldwide, the Charities Aid Foundation says.

The survey asked people whether they had given money to a charity in the previous month, and to rank how happy they were with life on a scale of one to 10.

To develop the Index, the Charities Aid Foundation compared the strength of the relationship between giving with both a nation’s gross domestic product and the happiness of its population.

The link between the giving of money and happiness is stronger than the link between the giving of money and the gross domestic product of a nation, the study says.

“Donating money to charity is something that is traditionally seen as being driven by how wealthy a person is,” Richard Harrison, director of research at the Charities Aid Foundation, says in a statement. “However, it is clear that happiness plays an important role in    influence whether people give.”

The findings also suggest “a positive cycle where one person gives to charity, the charity improves the happiness of the individuals they support and they in turn are more likely to give,” he says.

The Index also measured volunteering time and helping a stranger, and developed the Index by combining the levels of the three types of charitable behavior to produce a ranking of the most charitable nations.

Australia ranked first overall, followed by New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Austria.

The data also show that “globally, the older we are, the more we tend to give,” the study says, although that trend is reversed in some specific emerging and developing countries.

And in most regions, it says, “we are least likely to help a stranger when over 50.”

Global patterns in volunteering vary greatly by region and by country, the study says.

In North America, for example, 34 percent of the population ages 15 to 24 had volunteered in the previous month, compared to 76 percent of those over age 50.

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